|He's the spark-plug the Islanders needed, and he's on display|
for the whole world to see.
Anyways, the Islanders have made their series with the Penguins one of the most compelling playoff series in the NHL this postseason. The Isles have North America's attention, and I think it's safe to say that people are finally rooting for us. After years of disrespecting the Islanders, people want to see New York take down Pittsburgh in what would be one of the biggest upsets in recent sports' history.
John Tavares is leading the way. Kyle Okposo is also willing the Islanders to success. The entire team (yes, even Marty Reasoner) has had a hand in making this season and postseason one of the most rewarding memories for Islanders' fans in the past twenty years. This postseason has been a treat for Isles' fans, who are getting an Islanders' team that is playing ears ahead of their rebuild.
And what do you know? Along with the Islanders' big guns, Casey Cizikas, 22, belongs in the discussion for one of the main reasons why the Islanders are tied with the Penguins after four games. Two months ago, I wrote a piece about Casey. In it, I concluded with "both of Casey's NHL goals have come on National TV this season. He likes to play in front of a national audience, dating back to his epic penalty-kill in the WJHC a few years back. Now, if only we can get this team to the playoffs. I bet Casey Cizikas would become a popular name around the NHL." Well isn't that funny?
Here we are. It's May 8th, and the Islanders are playing playoff hockey. Every single Islanders' playoff game has been broadcast in front of a national audience, and Casey Cizikas is basking in the spotlight.
Through his first four career playoff games, Casey Cizikas has brought more to the table than you could ever ask of a rookie. Averaging 10:29 of ice time per game, Cizikas has provided the Islanders with a little bit of everything. Offensively, Zeeker has scored two goals in this series after scoring six goals in the regular season. CC has also added two assists. Both of his goals have come in big moments for the Islanders, especially his goal in Game Four, which put the Penguins away for good.
Casey has found other ways to make himself even more of a factor in this series, too. He has won 53.6% of his face-offs, good for second for the Islanders' regular face-off-men in the postseason. He's has connected with 11 hits in this series.And although the Isles' penalty-kill has not been effective this postseason, Casey Cizikas has not been on the ice for a Penguins' power-play goal.
The kid's all heart. His relentless and gritty style of play has given the New York Islanders a huge boost, just as much as it has gotten under the Penguins' skin. Cizikas has knocked around by the Penguins' this series, but he's gotten the last laugh on several occasions.
On Tuesday, Brooks Orpik stood him up at the blue-line, only to have Cizikas return the favor by leaping on to his back. After battling with Brenden Morrow, who was supposed to shutdown JT in this series, in front of the net, CC and Morrow both went to the ground. Clearly frustrated, Morrow proceeded to bash Cizikas' head onto the ice. There was no penalty, but it was enough to light a fire under the Islanders. CC got the last laugh, though, scoring an uncomfortably ugly goal past Marc-Andre Fleury to put Game Four out of reach.
The entire nation outside of Pittsburgh cheered.
Casey Cizikas wasn't named one of the 'Three Stars of the Game' at the Nassau Coliseum, but he was named one of the NHL's 'Three Stars of the Night' on Tuesday. He scored one goal, added two assists, and went +4 to show for it. The kid earned it, and the whole nation is seeing it.
The Islanders made it to the big dance for the first time in six years, and Casey Cizikas is doing everything he can to extend the Islanders' time. The taxi keeps showing up - I mean, it has been waiting for the Islanders since Game One - but CC has no plans on going home early. In fact, he might even choose to wait for something better, like a limo to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.The spotlight's on you, Zeeker, but we know that works in our favor.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on Casey Cizikas' play through this series with Pittsburgh?
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!